Alumni Masters Week, sponsored by the Nebraska Alumni Association, Nebraska Student Alumni Association and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Chancellor’s Office, is March 6-8.
Since 1964, more than 400 alumni have participated in Alumni Masters Week. Its primary goal is to link the university’s outstanding alumni with students who can benefit from their experiences and knowledge, as well as honor alumni for their success and leadership. Students are encouraged to take part in lectures, presentations and events with the Alumni Masters, who will speak about ways to apply formal education to working situations and career goals.
Masters Week will culminate with the Nebraska Medallion Dinner on March 8 at the Nebraska Innovation Campus Conference Center. In addition to the nine alumni masters being honored, the alumni association will also honor Distinguished Service, Public Service and Family Tree award winners.
The 2019 Alumni Masters:
Thomas S. Payne heads the CIMMYT Wheat Germplasm Bank, a living catalog of genetic diversity comprised of more than 28,000 seed collections of corn and more than 140,000 seed collections of wheat. His career with the gene bank has spanned more than three decades. In his current role, he coordinates the largest wheat-testing program in the world. The nonprofit research institution distributes seeds to anyone in the world who wants them, free of charge. The 1981 and 1988 graduate is hosted by the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
Sherri (Arnold) Privitera is a senior principal and Americas regional board member of Kansas City-based architecture firm Populous. She has dedicated more than 20 years to collegiate sports projects in the sports architecture industry. Her involvement in more than 65 projects at 50 universities, including the $266-million McLane Stadium at Baylor University, has made her one of the leading female architects in sports facilities. The 1994 and 1996 graduate is hosted by the College of Architecture.
Janna (Levendofsky) Ronert is founder and CEO of Image Skincare. After feeling frustrated by the lack of chemical- and paraben-free skin-care products on the market, she took matters into her own hands and launched Image in 2003. The brand has since expanded to 13 product collections available in 52 countries. When she’s not collaborating with chemists to formulate new products and treatments, Ronert travels the world to promote her message of healthy skin and wellness. The 1987 graduate is hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences.
Keith H. Kretschmer enjoyed a 30-year career in financial services. He was a general partner of Bear Stearns and senior managing director of Bear Stearns and Co. before serving as managing director of Oppenheimer and Co. from 1993-1994 and Oppenheimer Capital from 1994-2001. Prior to his investment career, he was CEO of a computer company, helped start a life insurance company and authored the book “Your Option.” He served as an Army ranger in Korea from 1956-1958 and was a member of the White House advance staff from 1970-1976. The 1956 graduate is hosted by the College of Business.
Sheri Everts is the chancellor of Appalachian State University. After teaching middle and high school English in Nebraska and Kansas, she began her higher education career in 1994 as an assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Rising through the academic and administrative ranks at UNO, she was named assistant vice chancellor for academic and student affairs in 2000, associate vice president in 2003 and interim senior vice chancellor for academic and student affairs in 2006. In 2008, she became provost and vice president for academic affairs at Illinois State University. She has been the chancellor at Appalachian State since 2014. The 1980, 1991 and 1994 graduate is hosted by the College of Education and Human Sciences.
Rear Adm. Douglas J. McAneny is HDR Inc.’s federal business group director and is responsible for guiding and growing the firm’s federal government business practice. He is on both the architecture and engineering company executive teams and is the CEO of HDR Environmental Operations and Construction. Prior to his civilian career, McAneny served in the Navy from 1978-2013, commanding submarines around the world. The 1978 graduate is hosted by the College of Engineering.
Anthony Blue came to the university on a football scholarship but later discovered his passion for music, DJing, photography and his brand, “Believe in Yourself Do It Yourself.” He was a personal photographer for singer Solange at the Met Gala in 2018. He has also photographed P. Diddy and created animations for renowned rappers such as Pharrell and N.E.R.D. He lives in New York City and hopes to continue collaborating with more well-known celebrities and retailers to grow his brand. The 2011 graduate is hosted by the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts.
Lynn (Gottschalk) Roper is senior consultant and senior vice president of Merrill Lynch Lincoln. She has been with the company since the office opened its doors in 1977. As a financial adviser, Roper builds long-term relationships to help generations of families grow, preserve and distribute their wealth. In addition to receiving numerous business awards recognizing her professional success, she is an active volunteer and advocate for many of Lincoln’s nonprofit groups and foundations. The 1970 graduate is hosted by the College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
Jisella Veath Dolan is global/chief advocacy officer of Home Instead, a leading provider of non-medical, in-home care services for the elderly. She develops aging and home-care policy around the world. Dolan began her legal career at Husch Blackwell, specializing in structured finance, mergers and acquisitions. She also led programs that empowered women and minorities in the legal profession. After achieving partnership, she left Husch and joined Home Instead. Outside of work, Dolan serves on Heartland Family Service’s board of directors and co-chairs St. Vincent de Paul School’s annual fundraisers. The 1998 and 2001 graduate is hosted by the College of Law.
The 2019 award winners:
Distinguished Service Award: Capt. Richard Holdcroft, 1976. Holdcroft earned his engineering degree while part of the Naval ROTC program and served 28 years as a surface warfare officer for the U.S. Navy on various ships in the Pacific and Atlantic fleets. He also spent 11 years as the director of field operations at aerospace company OrbitalATK, specializing in solid-rocket motors for space lift and strategic weapons. Holdcroft is the alumni association’s ROTC and Military Affiliate Group secretary and holds leadership positions with a number of nonprofit organizations, including the Air Force Association, Navy League and Rotary International.
Family Tree Award: Selzer family. The family’s storied history of Husker alumni began in 1918 when football letterman Milton Selzer graduated with a degree in agriculture. After graduating, Milton returned to his hometown of Scottsbluff to work in the family business — the Coca Cola Bottling Co. Milton’s three sons — Jim, Mike and Jack — also graduated from the university. Jack followed in Milton’s footsteps, returning to Scottsbluff to work for the bottling company and eventually Scottsbluff National Bank, where he served as president and chairman of the board. Jack’s wife, Shirley (Allen), was a 1951 Husker grad. Jack and Shirley’s sons, John and Steve, are alumni, as is John’s wife, Ann (Reinhardt); their two children, Jane (Selzer) Kelley and Johnny Selzer; and Jane’s husband, Chris Kelley. All of them live and work in Scottsbluff. Johnny’s wife, Jamie (Cooper), who is an occupational therapist, completed her undergraduate prerequisites at Nebraska.
Public Service Award: State Sen. Matt Williams 1971, 1974. Williams has served in the Nebraska Legislature since 2014 and was elected chair earlier this year. He has been an advocate for funding for the University of Nebraska, early childhood education and Nebraska’s economic development programs and incentives. He is on the Health and Human Services Committee, Planning Committee and Nebraska Economic Development Task Force, and is a member of the Nebraska Innovation Campus Board of Directors. He prides himself on being a citizen legislator who works for a more robust economic climate across the state.